Monday, August 24, 2015

Jimmy Carter, Our 39th President ~ #MondayBlogs

President Jimmy Carter showed a great kindness to my family in 1978 and I will forever remember how he helped us during a very difficult time. Let me explain...

Jimmy Carter
by Department of Defense
Department of the Navy
Licensed under Public Domain

My dad passed away in 1977 and following his wishes he was buried in one of the region's Veteran's cemeteries (He was very proud of his service in WW2). When a U.S. Veteran is buried in a national cemetery the VA National Cemetery Administration supplies the headstone as a way of honoring the service to our country.

For some reason though there was confusion about my dad's proper name and faith — multiple headstones were delivered to the cemetery, each time the combination was incorrect, either the name was misspelled or wrong or when the name was correct they displayed a marker from a different faith. (My dad always joked that he would take blessings from any religion, I guess the government was proving that?)

It is tradition in our religion, Judaism, to hold an unveiling several months after burial; in Judaism the unveiling (literally uncovering the stone) is a time to forever remember the love and life of the deceased as we view his/her name on the stone and a time when we are reminded that life continues. It is a very significant ritual.

With so many erroneous headstones showing up, it isn't an exaggeration to say how upsetting this was for my mom. Frustrated by her dismay and nearing the date of the anticipated unveiling and not knowing if we would indeed have the correct stone in time I decided to send a telegram to the White House and ask for help.

Almost immediately we received a response from the White House signed by President Carter (most probably mechanically) promising us that he would personally assign someone from his administration to ensure that we would have the correct headstone in time for the unveiling. He also expressed gratitude for my father's service, offered condolences for our loss and apologized for the headstone errors. (My mom kept the letter but unfortunately I don't know what happened to it after she passed away)

Even with President Carter's assurance we were filled with trepidation the day of the unveiling when we would once again make the journey to this particular National Cemetery - my husband had even fashioned a wooden headstone-shaped plaque with the correct information if necessary! We didn't need the wooden headstone. My dad's correct name along with the Star of David graced the brand new marble headstone.

We were told by the Cemetery Office that the headstone was delivered and installed just days before and that they had to submit a photo of it in place to send to the President's appointed representative. My mom sent a letter to President Carter thanking him for his assistance and expressed how wonderful it was to see my dad properly honored. I am eternally grateful to him for helping to remove a bit of stress from the shoulders of a grieving widow.

As I am writing this blog President Carter has just announced that he will be starting radiation treatments for an advanced case of cancer. I am praying for the President's well being and wish him an easy time. He has a positive attitude and has even suggested that if the treatments go well he may travel to Nepal in November to work with Habitat for Humanity; the Carters lead the Jimmy & Rosalynn Work Project for Habitat for Humanity for a week every year. Jimmy Carter, our 39th President, was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development".

This is a man who has done so much for those in need
and for my own family specifically.
I wish him well.

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